Thursday, October 28

Calatrava La Vieja: The city of the four hidden treasures | Culture


The old adage “there is nothing more cowardly than money” has curiously become a veritable archaeological treasure, an inexhaustible source of knowledge for experts. Now, the article The hidden coins in Calatrava La Vieja. The secret treasures of the past, signed by the archaeologist Manuel Retuerce Velasco, from the Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archeology of the Complutense University of Madrid, and Miguel Hervás Herrera, from the consulting firm Baraka, Arqueólogos SL., rescues the discovery in the last decades of four monetary sets found in this deposit of Carrión de Calatrava (Ciudad Real), hidden by their owners due to the imminent danger of some conflict. Two of them correspond to the emral era (9th century) and another two to the 13th century, since the fortified city was on the border between Christians and Muslims and was the most notable inhabited nucleus between Córdoba and Toledo for four centuries.

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The article by Retuerce y Hervás explains it this way: “Due to the fears generated by the men themselves with their frequent warlike actions, in times of insecurity the concealment of the assets of any member of a community was always very common and logical. Until the danger passed, it was totally common for anyone to try to hide their resources and belongings in a certain place and relatively close to where they lived ”.

Thus, from 1960, when the first discovery occurs by chance, until 2010, when the last one is made, archaeologists have been expanding their knowledge of daily life in this walled city, which will be inhabited by about 4,000 people until the end of the 13th century. , when its decline and progressive abandonment began, since the transfer of the military border to the south of the peninsula took away its strategic importance.

Treasury of 29 restored coins from the fourth concealment between the end of the 12th century and 1264 in Calatrava La Vieja.
Treasury of 29 restored coins from the fourth concealment between the end of the 12th century and 1264 in Calatrava La Vieja.Manuel Retuerce Velasco

In 1960 – 24 years before excavations began at this site – a farmer found, in what was the western suburb of the city, more than a hundred emirate coins. However, the researchers have little information about what was found, because almost all the pieces were sold by their discoverer, and the container where they were kept – essential to determine the reason for the concealment – there is little data. Only five pieces were donated to the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid.

Two coins from the reign of Alfonso VIII belonging to the third treasure found in Calatrava La Vieja.
Two coins from the reign of Alfonso VIII belonging to the third treasure found in Calatrava La Vieja.Manuel Retuerce Velasco

The second finding occurred in 1995 during the works to open a septic tank some one hundred meters southeast of a hermitage that stands close to the site. It is a set of more than 400 grams of silver coins that includes pieces of “all the Umayyad emirs of al-Andalus —from Abd al-Rahman I to Abd Allah—, a few fragments of frank coins, two coins of dynasties Islamic non-Andalusian and two small pieces of silver jewelry ”.

It is assumed that it belonged to someone who hid all its wealth before the arrival of the enemies to the city. The chronology of these pieces spans just over a century: from the end of the VIII to the years 891 or 892 and that correspond to the reign of the Emir Abd Allah (888-912), grandfather of Abd al-Rahman III, future Caliph of Córdoba . The whole is exposed in the Provincial Museum of Ciudad Real.

But not all the findings have been accidental like the previous ones. In 2004, while archaeologists were working outside the walls, to the north of the imposing fortress, they came across a set of 71 monies from Alfonso VIII, in what they suspected could be the floor of a house in a suburb. Due to its characteristics – with traces of the fabric that wrapped it and the low value of the coins – experts believe that it could be a bundle deposited in some hiding place in the house, possibly on a ceiling beam, and that it would fall to the ground. when the house collapsed. It is dated between the years 1212 and 1217 and would correspond to the approximate salary of one month.

Money of Alfonso X, between the end of the 12th century and 1264, corresponding to the fourth concealment.
Money of Alfonso X, between the end of the 12th century and 1264, corresponding to the fourth concealment.Manuel Retuerce Velasco

The latest find, made in 2010 and only eight meters from the previous one, is very similar. The only difference is that archaeologists, on this occasion, are sure how this treasure of 29 pieces minted between the end of the 12th century and 1264 was hidden, the latter by Alfonso X as a result of the first war in Granada.

The set was found on what was the pavement of a 13th century house and wrapped with cloth. “It was hidden among the timbers of one of the sleepers on the ceiling of the room,” explains Retuerce. “Maybe those coins were kept at that point and they stayed there forever; without anyone ever picking them up, until once the house was left, and after the walls and roof had collapsed, they fell to the ground ”.

“The four little treasures of Calatrava la Vieja”, concludes the professor of the Complutense University of Madrid, “They are a clear example of how furniture fortunes were hidden in secret places. The sites were only known to the fearful and forward-thinking owner or people close to him. The moment the danger and the attackers left, only he or his relatives would attempt to return for the cherished hidden heritage. The bad thing is that, on many occasions, none of the people who knew the secret survived, no one could go to collect the hidden good and it remained in the same place forever and ever… ”.


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